Friday, July 01, 2016

Off with their heads! or, What we need is a cosmetics revolution

My favorite lipstick, Guerlain's Rouge G in Gracia, retails for $52. It kills me that it's not refillable, because the case with its built-in mirror is so elegant and so handy for touch-ups.

Currently available for $50.47 on Overstock

Over the years, I've used one tube up, have a second in my purse at all times, with a third in reserve, just in case Guerlain decides to discontinue the shade or formula.

I thought I'd get that out there before I start feeling overly smug about my thriftiness. Because I just found out that Tom Ford's Autumn 2016 collection includes a lipstick that will retail for $60.

Available for pre-order, if you must, here

Sure, it's pretty. But I think not. When I bought my first tube of Rouge G,  it cost $45, which was quite bad enough. The price has been inching up, and when it went over $50, I was already hooked.

But $60? The shades of my Puritan ancestors recoil in horror at the thought. In fact, I think I hear the distant rumbling of the tumbrils and the jeers of an angry mob of sans-culottes.

Oh, and if I ever pop for a Christian Louboutin nail polish

Christian Louboutin nail polish in Lady Peep, $50

lip gloss

Christian Louboutin "Loubilaque" lip lacquer in Bengali, $85

or lipstick?

Velvet Matte Lip Colour in Rococotte, $90.00

You have my permission to send me to the guillotine.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review: MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 50 UVA-UVB Sunscreen

This is a series in which, in an attempt to work my way through my sample overload, I spend the weekend trying out samples, then inflict capsule reviews upon the internet. 

Available at, DermStore, MDSolarSciences, Nordstrom, Sephora,

Product Claims

According to the MDSolarSciences website:
This lightweight and silky-smooth crème blends seamlessly to help blur fine lines and wrinkles, making it a must-have for any daily beauty or grooming routine. Our exclusive “barely there” formula leaves a matte finish that is perfect to wear both under and over makeup. Naturally derived and safer Eco-cert zinc oxide helps reduce the risk of photo aging and skin cancer. Non-irritating and oil-free, this water-resistant sunscreen won’t clog pores, is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin types and suitable for kids 6 months and older.

The Ingredients

Again, from the website:

The Good

This is a high-SPF sunscreen that feels weightless on my dry skin and looks and acts like a makeup primer. (It feels very similar to Boots Prevent and Correct, a best-selling silicone-based serum that a lot of people like to wear as primer.)

The sun protection seems great, although I haven't tested it with a full day of outdoor wear. It doesn't claim to be waterproof, so I wouldn't wear if I were going to be swimming.

The cream has a very slight tint and gives the skin a whitish cast, but this isn't a problem for me, as I am fair-skinned and wear it under makeup.

There is a very slight sweet masking fragrance, but no sunscreen reek.

Mild-to-moderate activity doesn't appear to affect it, at least, from the getting-in-to-my-eyes school of sunscreen torment, which is no doubt caused by the chemicals in chemical sunscreens. Since this is a physical sunscreen, it's very bland, and good for sensitive skin (or eyes, as in my case.) Also, I've walked and run with it on and it stayed put well without holding in sweat and making me feel suffocated, which is what happens to me when I wear waterproof sunscreen.

The product is paraben-free.

The Bad

First, there is the whitening effect, which could be a problem for people with skin darker than mine.

The high level of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide might product flashback in photographs, although I haven't actually tested this.


Although I wouldn't swear by it for truly active/watersports days, if you are pale, or have dry skin, are comfortable with silicone-based skin creams, and are looking for something that plays well with makeup, I recommend it highly.

Bonus! a second opinion from my friend Wendy

Last May, when blackbird, Susie Sunshine, and Wendy visited me in Chicago, I gave out a few samples, and Wendy was gracious enough to email me her thoughts on some of the products she tried. She also gave me permission to quote her on my blog. This is what she said:

This is on my shopping list!!  I love the level of protection and I love how it goes on and feels when it dries.  It feels almost like make up primer when dry and says that it goes matte.  I agree.  There is a sheer white cast to it, but on my fair skin that's no big deal - I also follow it with powder foundation which is part of why I love how it feels like primer.  It's comfortable to wear and what I feel is enough to truly protect my skin.  No scent. I've been wearing it every day since I opened it and sadly have run out.  Like I said - I'm buying more tomorrow.  

How much? And where can I buy it?

The retail price is $30.00 for 1.7 oz. It's available at Sephora, Nordstrom,, and Amazon.


Would I buy it?

I already did! I followed a link from Brutally Honest Beauty and snagged a 1.7 oz. tube from DermStore using a coupon code that got me 30 percent off.

Because it's pricey and available at lots of different stores, I'd shop around to get a better deal--at the very least, free shipping.

Friday, June 24, 2016

a quick peek at some new goodies

Internet, I have been beside myself. When I returned from Oklahoma, it was to the news that our elderly clothes washer needed a $580 repair. That would have been a foolish waste of money, even for me, so I went to local electronics and appliances wonderland, and bought a very fawncy LG top-loading HE washer.

I was severely tempted by the matching dryer, but talked myself out of it, because my older dryer is working fine. And I don't want to be too matchy-matchy.

Anyway, picking out a washing machine, was, for me, the work of an instant. Getting it installed? Quite another deal. It was almost a week and a half between credit card swipe and the first load going in. And honestly, I didn't know what to do with myself.

Naturally, the laundry situation got pretty dire, so I couldn't wait to start washing. And then I acted like Zippy the Pinhead, mesmerized by the sight (through the clear glass lid) of my wash swishing around.

But you don't want to hear about laundry.

While waiting for the delivery of my new hardware, I did a little shopping. Here is a picture of some new loot, some from Net-a-Porter (fancy!)

That, my friends, is a Givenchy iPhone 5 case. Somebody out there with a degree in art history, tell this hapless English major the source of the artwork. It's dark and Pre-Raphaelite and sort of Goth and I love it, but I'm feeling like an idiot, as though I bought a pair of those Icon shoes because of the pretty dark blue sky and didn't realize I was walking around with Van Gogh's "Starry Night" on my feet.

I'm also wearing a quick swipe of Charlotte Tilbury's iconic Pillow Talk lip pencil, and people, I am in LOVE. It has the softest, softest texture, and it's the perfect color, neither too brown, rusty, or mauve. If you're fair-skinned with not-particularly-pigmented lips, it could be your jam. Well worth the $22.00.

My nails are a base of Revlon's Parfumerie in Lavender Soap, which is almost impossible to apply evenly, as it is a very pale shade with lots of pearl in it, a/k/a streak city.  I applied a third very thick coat to smooth things out and of course munged up a couple of fingers. I'd just received a package from an Amazon seller with OPI's The Color to Watch, so I used some. It didn't help things, because it too, has a tricky/frosty finish. There's a reason these things get marked down.

I love a purple nail, but I've got to get ready for a cocktail party tomorrow and redo fingers and toes with a nice coral creme. I hope. Surely I have a bottle SOMEWHERE.  I'm wearing this

with a pair of gold sandals. And a ton of leg makeup.

I'm busy listening to a Librivox audiobook version of Our Mutual Friend, and it is fabulous. One crazy character after another. And the social climbing is epic! It makes the laundry folding fly.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: Cane&Austin Miracle Pad+ exfoliating pads

It's been a while since I've done a Sample Saturday report, mostly because I kept discovering products I liked and wanted to keep using.

Case in point: Radical Skincare Age-Defying Exfoliating Pads, reviewed here. (If you're new to these parts or don't understand why I'm obsessed with exfoliating my skin, you can read this post from 2013. Nothing has changed; I'm still engaged in an ongoing battle with my skin's unfortunate tendency to pile up in various crusty and unappealing ways.) I tried the sample, liked it, and popped for the full-sized jar of 60 pads, which I'm still using.

But here's my latest, greatest (spoiler!) find!

While we were traveling around Lake Michigan, I knew I was going to be spending the bare minimum of time primping. Not only because the dress code was Early Summer Lumberjack.

But because when you're sharing a bathroom with three other people, it behooves you to get in and out quickly.

Also I was packing light. So I brought a three-packet sample of Cane&Austin Miracle Pad+ 30% pads. Which I used up in a week, using them on alternate nights.

The Claims

The package say this product

delivers the results of a 30% Glycolic clinical treatment to restore luminosity and vitality to skin

and will

even skin tone, reduce fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores & the appearance of age spots

This is the most potent exfoliating pad Cane&Austin sells. On their site, they show you the following:

The Dermstore site says that the Cane&Austin 20% pads are

Since I pretty much have all of the above except for oily skin and acne, the stronger product seemed ideally suited for me.

The directions said to swipe the pad over a clean face morning and night, avoiding the eye area. I only used the product at night, because I only had three pads, and anyway, overkill.

The Ingredients

Here's a screenshot of the ingredients from the website:

I think it's important to point out that these pads promise the equivalent of a 30 percent glycolic peel; they don't actually claim to contain a 30 percent glycolic acid solution. As you can see from the above, there are other acids in this product: lactic, phytic, and tartaric acid, as well as willow bark extract and salicylic acid phospholipids. In this respect, this product resembles Radical Skincare in being a virtual cornucopia of active ingredients.

The Results

I've mentioned that I'd been bothered by milia, and although I'd gotten rid of most of them, a couple of outliers still remained, including a closed comedone (GROSS) on the side of my nose.

A couple of days I brushed my finger over the area of my nose where this tiny, stubborn bump had been located, and it was gone. Just ... vanished. There was no sign left of it, but no signs of any trauma, either. No red mark, no hole, nothing. I was delighted, yet somehow disappointed that I hadn't noticed the moment when it fell off.

That's gross, right? Still, it would have been kind of gratifying.

The Verdict

Naturally, I'm thrilled, and I want more.

Where can I get this stuff?

Cane&Austin Miracle Pad+ can be found at the Cane&Austin website and Sephora. Unfortunately, the product is not stocked in every store that sells Cane&Austin products. A lot of stores only carry the lower percentage glycolic products, so be sure to check the numbers.

How much does it cost?

It's expensive. You get 60 pads for $88.  There are many, many options for glycolic acid pads, though. Click here for the result of an Amazon search.

One word, though. If you have Roseacea or simply know that you have sensitive skin, proceed with caution. That holds if you simply haven't been beating up your face on a regular basis, as I have. For some reason, getting my brows waxed or my hair blown out reddens my skin like crazy, whereas I pile all kinds of products onto my face with no ill effects whatsoever.

Oh, and one more thing (she said, challenging Columbo.) When you are using products like this, which are pH sensitive, be sure to use them on a clean DRY face. Water will buffer the acid and the pads won't be as effective. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A massive clothing and accesory haul--with justifications galore

I know I'm supposed to be on a low-buy, but I have a theory.

You know how hoarders feel bereft when they are forced to part with their old newspapers, 30-year-old prom dresses, and collections of Big Gulp cups? Well, when The Girls were visiting last month, I brought masses of samples to the condo, and they went through them like a devouring flame. This is the before:

In case you can't tell, that's two drawers of a plastic rolling cabinet and a giant white tray filled with samples on the big hassock that serves as our coffee table.

I'd take a picture of the after, except you'd be underwhelmed because I still have lots. LOTS. But psychologically, I think, (at an unconscious level, at least) I felt divinely light and unburdened. That meant I felt free to acquire more stuff.

More justification: we are going to Prague and Vienna this summer and I felt that I needed to freshen up my summer wardrobe. Because crazy colored Lilly resort wear might make me look a touch conspicuous whilst in Europe, where grown-up ladies dress like grownups. Also, comfy shoes are a necessity. I've had blisters while walking my feet off all over England, and it is a miserable experience. I went over my summer shoes, and honestly, since I chucked out a much-loved but very shabby pair of J. Crew Kiki ballerina flats (beige with bronze toes) I have had nothing except flipflops for hot weather all-day wear. And I am NOT going to represent the United States of America in a pair of flipflops. We may have questionable taste in presidential candidates, but our footwear, at least, should be impeccable.

ANYWAY. I bought all this:

For Impressing Europeans With My Sophistication

Two pairs of Lafayette 148 New York pants, in khaki and white, which fit nicely and will pack well. I think.

A pair of Gucci (!) espadrilles, for jumping on board that whole espadrille craze without flashing a giant pair of interlocking Chanel CCs on my feet. Or spending $750 for a pair of rope-soled shoes that will be destroyed in the first rainstorm.

The print is pretty without being loud. You know, subtle. The way I'd like to be. At least, whilst amongst Europeans. (See what I did there?)

Because I Love Handbags More Than Life Itself

A Moschino wallet-on-a-chain

and a Jimmy Choo purple cross body bag

Sadly, they're both going back.

They're cute, but the purple one is a bit too bite-sized to be practical, and the Moschino makes more noise than a charm bracelet ... plus ... is it sophisticated enough for an (unofficial) American Ambassador to Prague and/or Vienna? I think not.

Because I am an Athlete

New running shoes. LOUD ONES.
Brooks Ghost 8 running shoe

New running tights--a bit more soft-spoken.

I look EXACTLY LIKE THIS in them, too.

Actual running shorts
Mine are, of course, not this color. Mine are more purple. Like pretty much everything I buy.

a new FitBit because my old one broke

See? Purple.

Because I am a Crazy Colorful Scarf Lady

From eBay ... two Hermes Fêtes Venetienne scarves in the most beautiful colorways .... an amazing violet with touches of green and orange

and purple

and a plummy mauve.

By which I mean ... PURPLE

These photographs don't do them justice. By the way, that's what you want, when you're a collector—there is nothing better than a fantastic item captured in bad light with a crappy cell phone. It keeps the prices down.

Because I Get Disgustingly Matchy Matchy at Times


A leather bracelet from a Japanese eBayer to go with my Speedy ... please note purple LV and nail polish.

Because No One Else Has Mentioned These Yet and I'm Curious

Three Urban Decay professional makeup brushes.

An eyebrow brush/eyelash comb/spoolie, a soft crease blender, and a stiff eye shadow applicator. I can't wait to play with them. Doesn't that eyebrow tool look as if it could beat my eyebrows into submission?

Whew! Are you exhausted? Because I need a drink.

Friday, June 10, 2016

June check-in

Hello Internet! Did you miss me? I missed you.

Scaling Mount Washmore

I've been very busy traveling and recovering from traveling. If you are a parent and know what it's like to return from a trip with not one suitcase full of dirty clothes, but four suitcases full of dirty clothes, one for every member of the family, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Adding to the fun, my daughter completed her post-graduate year at boarding school. And in packing up her room, she and my husband didn't sufficiently differentiate between clean and dirty clothes, but jumbled them up together. 

This makes for epic amounts of laundry.

Here be shoes. And purses. And Steven King books.

At the moment, my house looks like the Juniors' department of Bloomingdales exploded. Sorting through everything and squeezing it into the available space is an ongoing challenge. Her room appeared sufficiently full while she was away at school. It was furnished. She had bedding, clothes, and tchotkes. Now the prodigal daughter returns with a minivan of belongings to store. Where the hell are we going to put it all?

Some Kon Mari-ing is definitely in order.

Adventures in Michigan

Did I mention that she graduated? She did. And first there was a music festival where I got to hear her sing opera.

A screen shot of the crappy cell phone recording I made

After graduation, we traveled to Mackinac Island, Saulte St. Marie, Marquette, and Green Bay, Wisconsin before returning to Chicago.

Basically a circle tour of Lake Michigan, with a bit of Lake Huron and Lake Superior thrown in for good measure.

I did not grow up in the Great Lakes region, so I have all the enthusiasm of a recent convert. It was extremely scenic.

Some shopping occurred. Mostly for my daughter. I restrained myself mostly to picture postcards and the one sweatshirt I found that didn't have a moose on it.

I also bought a dress. It's still packed up in tissue, or I'd show you a picture. I had no business buying it. It is a size eight, and I am not. It's a vintage pink sheath with a coordinating striped coat with bracelet sleeves and rhinestone buttons. It was $53.00 at a vintage store in Marquette, Michigan. I had to buy it.

I must know someone who's a size 8 and wants to dress like it's 1965.

I Survived a Style Desert

Another reason I didn't post--I mean other than the fact that I was with my family 24/7 and it felt odd to spend too much time using my laptop--was that this was a uniquely unglamorous time, even for me. Mostly I wore jeans and a button-up shirt. My skincare was reduced from my Korean-skincare-expert-wannabe multi-steps to at most, four or five steps. My makeup consisted of BB cream and lipstick. It was ... I don't know ... kind of embarrassing to spend a lot of time primping when all these people were around.

And anyway, this was more of a sunscreen vacation. Nay, a bug spray vacation.

After I got home, I eased back into full-on skincare. I started using my new retinol cream, the very expensive Chantecaille stuff I bought a few weeks ago. I'm using it every other night for now, because my experience with the prescription stuff was not joyous. So far it's OK.

More Travel Awaits

Tomorrow I'm leaving for another road trip, this time to Oklahoma. My daughter has some kind of registration/pep rally/see your dorm/find the library event at her new college. The good news is that we'll be on the Mother Road, getting our kicks on Route 66! The bad news is it will be hot on a level I'm unused to, which makes me doubly glad I didn't splurge on a lot of moose-covered sweatshirts while I was in Michigan.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Today's laugh, courtesy of the New York Times Book Review

I'm doing my third GoodReads Reading Challenge in as many years, and I've developed a habit of writing sarcastic one-line reviews of the (sadly, many) books I've read that don't keep me adequately amused.

Many times this is not the fault of the books themselves; it's the fault of my incredible levels of experience and sophistication. I mean, when you've read Romeo and Juliet and seen West Side Story, you don't need to be a genius to sense that things won't end well for the young protagonists of The Fault in Our Stars.

Anyway, having spent the last week plowing through Little Dorrit and The Winthrop Woman, I thought--hey, maybe The New York Times Book Review will have a useful suggestion of what to read next. Maybe something lighter. Maybe something SHORTER.

And lo, the Best Seller lists are full of one-sentence reviews. Here I was thinking I was being original and fresh. Guess not.

And have you noticed how many sub-categories of literature appear in the Best Sellers lists? It used to be fiction and non-fiction; hard cover and soft cover. Now there are Graphic Novels, Politics and American History, and my new favorite: Fashion, Manners and Customs.

So guess what the Number 2 Best Seller on the Fashion, Manners and Customs list is?

Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson.

And this is how the NYT one-sentence-reviews the book:

The actress recommends eating well and exercising. 

Which cracked me up, because it's obvious the reviewer didn't find these ideas particularly

In fact, I get the feeling the reader wanted to say something more like